Hey, Space Placers!
2 Camera Picture composite of Stable Aurora Red (SAR) Arc
iPhone Pic of Stable Aurora Red (SAR) Arc
Credit: Greg Redfern
Yesterday you may have seen the WTOP story about the possibility of seeing Aurora (Northern Lights) in our region https://wtop.com/the-space-place/2023/11/northern-lights-may-be-visible-in-dc-area-sunday-night/ .
Luckily last night I was at Shenandoah National Park's https://www.nps.gov/shen/index.htm Skyland to close out my 9th season of “Let’s Talk About Space” https://www.goshenandoah.com/activities-events/astronomy/space . 100+ guests heard about James Webb Space Telescope https://wtop.com/the-space-place/2022/07/the-james-webb-space-telescope-epoch-begins/ .
Afterwards we went out into a clearing to look for Aurora and Taurid fireballs. We saw 1 Taurid - which got a LOT of Oh’s!!! and Wow’s!!!! - and some guests were able to photograph red and green colors in the sky with their smartphones. We could not see these colors with our eyes as they are not adept at doing so due to the wavelengths of light involved.
I was able to use my iPhone and Nikon camera to image the sky as it was clear with no smoke from the ongoing fire https://www.nps.gov/shen/planyourvisit/quaker-run-fire-information.htm . In processing my images today I realized that what we were seeing last night was in fact not an Aurora, but a space weather phenomenon called a Stable Aurora Red (SAR) Arc https://www.space.com/rare-blood-red-arc-of-light-shines-in-the-scandinavian-sky-what-is-it . I realized what it was when I combined two of my pics into a composite which showed the stunning arc.
This was the first time I have imaged a SAR Arc although I have imaged the rare Strong Thermal Emission Velocity Enhancement (STEVE) https://sos.noaa.gov/education/phenomenon-based-learning/this-is-steve/ at sea which the SAR Arc has been seen to transition into https://www.livescience.com/steve-blood-red-arc .
It does not appear that our area will be treated to a similar night tonight https://www.swpc.noaa.gov/products/aurora-viewline-tonight-and-tomorrow-night-experimental but we can count on having more in the months ahead.
We’ll let you know when it happens.
Sky Guy In VA